art by Eleanor Bennett
by Michael Haynes
I watch you commit suicide for the fourth time. This time I almost have you talked out of it. But something happens, I don't know what. And the gun's in your mouth and you've pulled the trigger before I can even react.
I scream out your name, but it's too late. You're falling to the floor and the wall behind you is a gory mess. Just like the other times.
My insides churn but there's nothing left for me to expel so I dry heave, bent over, and try to get my self, my mind, under control even as the seconds are ticking away. I can't do this, can't turn back time and try to keep you alive, if I'm not focused. I don't even know if I can do it again; I've never looped over a stretch of minutes this many times before and each iteration is dramatically harder to pull off than the one before.
A minute later I'm able to stand straight as long as I don't look at your corpse. I wrap myself in energy, hoping to see you alive again. Hoping I'm not about to watch you kill yourself for a fifth time.
"...king matter, anyway?" Your voice, asking the same question you asked five minutes ago. I swallow down the nausea that remains within me, born of the smells and sights of the past half hour and the compounded exertion of winding the world back over and over.
"Because I love you," I say, just like last time. It's reflexive and it's not what made you kill yourself, but I already feel like we're covering the same ground, heading for the same endgame.
So I hurry on to more words, telling you that we have a future together. That I'll marry you.
You laugh. The one reaction I didn't expect.